Afenifere’s roots of conviction as guiding philosophy
It is instructive to observe that Afenifere is a descriptive name of the followers of Awolowo’s prescription of Social Democratic economic and social left of centre approach to governance; as well as to moral and ethical practices in governance. Afenifere is partisan to the extent that it has always had to profess preferred political objectives or options.
From the time of its Founder, it has, for instance, supported non-Yoruba leadership even when Yoruba were vying for the same position. Awolowo supported Ernest Ikoli to lead the Nigerian Youth Movement against Prince Samuel Akinsanya, later Odemo of Ishara. He was accused of working against Yoruba interests. Awo retorted that Yoruba interests were subsumed in the collective approach to fairness and equity for determining our position on issues. Once we lean towards equity and justice in our life’s choices, we protect our interests too in that collective stance.
Anyone familiar with the story of the struggle to take over or subdue Afenifere will recall that it is a trend that always recurs at every 4-year election cycle. When late Chief Adekunle Ajasin passed on the baton of Afenifere leadership to late Senator Abraham Adesanya, he in turn named, at his retirement, Chief Fasoranti as the new helmsman. Certain tails started wagging as to the truth value of the seamless handover. Adesanya’s subsequent public statement was to confirm to the press at a press conference that the signature appointing Fasoranti was his. Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors including Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and late Senator Biyi Durojaiye had alleged that the letter was forged. Afenifere leaders stood solidly by Fasoranti. Chief Olaniwun Ajayi and Chief Ayo Adebanjo are noted as the arrowheads of the vanguard to give a clear expression to the will of Afenifere. They stood for order and discipline within the fold. The Tinubu group had a counterpoise to Fasoranti in late Senator Fasanmi by championing him as the rightful successor to Adesanya.
Fasoranti continued to run the affairs of Afenifere in the best tradition of the organisation’s policies and programmes and to the best of his own ability. However, in a letter under his hand to Afenifere in the course of his stewardship, he sought the convenience of the body to retire citing old age as his reason. He named Chief Ayo Adebanjo as a worthy successor.
Fasoranti was too conscious of Adebanjo’s capacity to act with disinterestedness in a structured situation. He conceded that Adebanjo was sure to surmount his own bashful or self-effacing disposition. He insisted that Adebanjo was sufficiently enlightened to take Afenifere to its ordained height.
Fasoranti’s own chief defect was a creeping lack of enthusiasm due to old age. There was nothing much of the crusader in him. He was becoming cynical but thankfully calm and humorous. He was certain however that Adebanjo would be a courageous leader of Afenifere who would not truckle or fawn to the interests of persons whose purpose or interests are tangential to the main thrust of Afenifere or who do not understand the definite purpose and direction of the organisation.
Each time in the wake of the elections of 2007, 2011 and 2015, the leadership of Afenifere was assailed by a renegade rump who had deemed the body irrelevant or as possessing no electoral value. At one time, Senator Durojaiye was propped up as Afenifere leader even as he led a delegation to Aso Rock to pledge “the support” of Afenifere for President Buhari. In all those previous propaganda blitz, Fasoranti was sidetracked or ignored or unacknowledged as the Afenifere Leader. Now that he has voluntarily retired, he is curiously paraded as Afenifere Leader.
As Adebanjo was found not pliable or agreeable to a Yoruba irredentist justification of a slot at the presidency, Fasoranti was thought a tool for achieving the contrary goal. Fasoranti’s audience was sought for conveying to him the resolve of “several Yoruba groups” to adopt him as the Leader of the Yoruba. He was deemed the only leader with the “temperament to unite the Yoruba” – a quality its proponents posited was urgently needed in the polity.
Fasoranti’s concurrence was also sought for holding Afenifere meetings in his Akure premises under his aegis. The old man declined and directed that Adebanjo’s nominated place should continue to be the venue of meetings as he (Fasoranti) was no longer the Leader sequel to his retirement from the leadership of Afenifere and from the affairs of state. The gentleman that he is, he periodically kept Adebanjo inundated with all the behind-the-scenes schemings.
All through the ages, beautiful brides have been an endangered species. Some very cerebral person has likened the hoopla emanating from the inner recesses of Afenifere to a self-conscious resistance to an attempted abduction or bride kidnap. Politicians are known to take full advantage of any situation just to score a political point, no matter how cheap. For them, every foul is fair. If the beautiful bride will not agree to the stealthy advances of the suitor, the old ploy of “charge at, grab and run away” with the prize is resorted to. It is strange that no one deems the abduction or kidnap of a girl into willing or unwilling “bridehood” as an aggregation of crimes, to wit, assault, battery, violation of the person, attempted rape, “ theft of the person”, etc.
In line with Afenifere’s cherished tradition of encouraging equity, fairness and inclusivity in the governance affairs of the Nigerian state, it adduced reasons for endorsing Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party. Afenifere’s aversion to morbid desire for naked power and domination, abuse and mis-use of power and office, intolerance, and jobbery is clearly in oppositional relationship to the greed, avarice, irredentism, etc which pretenders to the Afenifere ethos unwittingly espouse.
Probity, tolerance, forthrightness, altruism, equality of treatment, justice, equity and fair play are the enduring values of Afenifere.
Rotimi-John, a lawyer and commentator on public affairs, wrote vide email@example.com